Interview: Jessica Jarrell

by Ceylan Kumbarji

“We’re all human beings and we have our fears and anxieties like everyone else.”

Jessica Jarrell is obviously beautiful and talented, but during our interview with the singer-songwriter from Diamond Bar, California, she also revealed how witty, ambitious and down to earth she is. She talked to us about social media, her obsession with Michael Jackson music videos and what she’d be doing if it wasn’t for her singing career.

Taylor Magazine: Tell us a little bit about Goldblooded!

Jessica: It’s my first album and I’m just so excited, because there’s not a song on there that I didn’t write. I feel like being 20 is cool because I’ve been on tours and put out music before and I’ve been able to learn a lot about myself. This project is everything I would have wanted my first album to be. It’s truly how I dreamed of coming out with something major. I feel like it’s a sassy album; it’s a relatable album. There are some fun songs on there and I feel like it’s a really good representation of who I am.

Taylor Magazine: When you started coming up with ideas for it, was there a theme or a strong idea of something you wanted to get across when you decided to make this album?

Jessica: I wanted to just do songs that I felt represented my personality well. Before, I was doing more pop songs that were super pop. I’m half black and I wanted there to be some urban influence. I listen to a whole lot of rap music and I’m just really inspired by people like Drake. I wanted to show people who I was with this album.

Taylor Magazine: You’ve been on a few tours before. Do you get nervous before going on stage? Is there anything you have to do before you do a big performance?

Jessica: It’s so funny because literally every time I perform, I get really anxious! I’m ready to go and do it but I do get nervous. I like to take 15 minutes before I go on stage. I don’t talk to anybody. Not in a rude way, I just go and sit in my own corner and I’m really quiet and I’m just focusing myself and getting myself ready to do what I have to do. I feel like as a performer you can’t hold on to that side of you that’s a normal person that has insecurities and gets nervous. I just take the moment and I block that side of me out and get into performance mode. I think every performer has an alter ego or something. They feel like “Hey I gotta focus, I gotta use the entertainment side of me.”

Taylor Magazine: You’re only 20 so is there anything you’ve ever wanted to try except singing?

Jessica: I think I’d be a scientist. No one expects me to say that! When I was in school that was always my best subject: science. No matter what we were doing, whether it was planets or the earth or whatever it was, I was super into it and really good at it. I’m not in college but I’d like to get some books on different things I’m interested in and even take those on tours with me for when I’m sitting around. I like to read.

Taylor Magazine: What’s the most recent book you’ve read?

Jessica: Oh my goodness. I think the most recent thing I’ve read was the Maze Runner series. They’re so amazing. I saw the movie first and then it made me want to get the books. I read every single one within a week and I’m waiting for the other movie to come out!

Taylor Magazine: Gravity has so many views on YouTube already! You look so confident, how do you prepare yourself for things like that? Are you quite a confident person naturally?

Jessica: I can’t believe it! Even with that I get into a zone. What happened with that was really interesting: I put the song up and then went outside into my backyard and filmed a 15 second clip. I just kind of free styled and it ended up with 5 million Facebook views. My managers called me and were like, “We need to film the whole thing tomorrow!” And I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m not a choreographer, there’s no rehearsal!” But I knew that it needed to be done because just that little clip did so well. So I just went and winged it! It went crazy and it’s very unexpected so it feels good.

Taylor Magazine: When you’re not singing and dancing what do you like to do in your spare time to chill out?

Jessica: I like to watch lifetime movies, which is what I was doing a few minutes ago. I like to shop, and I like the beach. I’m always at the beach! I write my songs on the beach, I go to the beach house and that’s where I wrote the whole album. I record and write and spend a lot of time in Malibu. It’s beautiful out there.

Taylor Magazine: Paradise Cove is so pretty.

Jessica: Yes! I love it!

Taylor Magazine: Do you have plans to come over to the UK and do any tours?

Jessica: I want to! I haven’t talked about it yet, but I want to. I went there a few years ago when I was young, I was 16 or 17 but I definitely want to come now!

Taylor Magazine: Do you have any inspirations for music? Who do you draw from or look up to?

Jessica: I would say Drake really inspires me, I probably take a lot away from his song writing. He’s such an amazing song writer, so real and raw. I love Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, they’re a big inspiration. Performance-wise, I would say Michael Jackson. When I was little, I would always come home and ask to watch a tape I had of every single music video of his. I wanted to watch it like it was a Disney Movie. I’d come home and be like, “Put on my Michael Jackson tape!” and they’d be like, “Okay Jessica…” So yeah, he inspired me a lot.

Taylor Magazine: Who are you listening to at the moment? If we went through your music, who would we find?

Jessica: You’d find… Drake, obviously. J Cole, Nicki Minaj… You’d find Phillip Phillips. I love him! I’m literally looking in my phone now. You’d also find Party Next Door and Ed Sheeran.

Taylor Magazine: Do you have a dream collaboration? I’m gonna guess Drake…

Jessica: I’d love work with him or Big Sean. I love Big Sean!

Taylor Magazine: You have a really big presence on social media like Twitter and Instagram. You’ve got a lot of fans following your career. How much of a role has it played for you and do you think it’s crucial?

Jessica: Absolutely, I think it plays a huge role. You can use it to speak directly to the fans. It’s great for artists and influencers because you can really build your own brand and empire.

Taylor Magazine: Do you have a favourite app?

Jessica: Instagram is my favourite. And my new favourite is this app where you can make these little moving pictures called Phhhoto. I just got it yesterday.

Taylor Magazine: What three things could you not live without? Imagine you’re on an abandoned island.

Jessica: I would take my phone, I would take unlimited pizza… and I’d take probably Jordan Clarkson from the Lakers because he’s really cute, because then I won’t be bored or lonely. My phone, some food and a hot guy.

Taylor Magazine: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far in 2015?

Jessica: Well, it would probably be my “Gravity” video doing so well. I was really nervous considering I hadn’t dropped anything in a few years. I was thinking “Do people care, are they gonna pay attention?” We’re all human beings and we have our fears and anxieties like everyone else so to see that do so well and people open their arms wide to me getting back to music is so nice. It’s what I’ve worked for my whole life so when things like that pay off, there’s nothing that compares.

Check out the “Gravity” video Here

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